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Finding their smile: Creighton students address dental care need in Omaha

Posted at 9:38 PM, Apr 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-16 22:38:45-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — It's a type of healthcare that some kids in our community don't have access to. Creighton dental students went to Sacred Heart School to provide free dental care to all students.

  • Creighton Healthy Smiles Program serves over 2,500 students across 19 elementary schools.
  • Creighton dental students focus on the urgent needs of each student and connect them with providers in the community.
  • Providing care, educating students and creating a comfortable dental experience.
  • Watch the video to see Creighton dental students work with students at Sacred Heart School.


Creighton's Healthy Smiles Program brings access directly to students in the metro.

"Many of these children that we see, throughout that year, have never been to a dentist," said Ashley Aubrey, supervisor of the program.

Creighton dental students focus on urgent needs but set them up for the future too.

"We do dental screening, fluoride varnishes, and dental sealants and then we identify any need that we have, and we help them connect with a provider within the community," Aubrey said.

Whether it is transportation, finances, guardianship or even a language, Ashley Aubrey, the supervisor for the program says children and families can face a variety of barriers when it comes to accessing dental care.

According to the 2023 Kids Count Nebraska report, 80% of children had a preventative dental visit in the past year in 2022.

As of September 30, 2022, there were 81 shortages of dental providers.

"When you do see those kids that you know might not have been to the dentist before or just don't have that dental education, it makes me so happy that we can be an intervening hand and kind of help them on the right track to getting the care that they need," said Tess Reardon.

The Healthy Smiles program serves over 2,500 children across 19 elementary schools both public and private during a school year.

While dental students provide care and education, students like Reardon use personal experiences.

"I was actually pretty scared of going to the dentist when I was growing up," Reardon said.

Creating comfortable spaces for the kiddos who may not love the dentist either.

"I think education is the most important part through this whole process,” Reardon said.

From student to student, hoping this experience will spark continued oral care at home.

This is the tenth year of the program and the eighth time it has come to Sacred Heart School.